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Extending the travel range of analog-tuned electrostatic actuators

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2 Author(s)
Hung, E.S. ; Dept. of Electr. Eng. & Comput. Sci., MIT, Cambridge, MA, USA ; Senturia, S.D.

The pull-in instability limits the travel distance of elastically suspended parallel-plate electrostatic microactuators to about 1/3 of the undeflected gap distance. In this paper, we examine the “leveraged bending” and “strain-stiffening” methods for extending the travel range of electrostatic actuators. The leveraged bending effect can be used to achieve full gap travel at the cost of increased actuation voltage. The strain-stiffening effect can be used to minimize actuation voltage for a given travel range. An analytical approximation shows that the strain-stiffening effect can be used to achieve a stable travel distance up to about 3/5 of the gap. A tunable reflective diffraction grating known as the polychromator has been designed using these actuation techniques, and selected designs have been fabricated and tested for actuation behavior. Gratings with 1024 flat, closely packed grating-element actuators have been fabricated with over 1-cm-long mirrors, achieving stable vertical travel distances of more than 1.75 μm out of a 2-μm gap

Published in:

Microelectromechanical Systems, Journal of  (Volume:8 ,  Issue: 4 )

Date of Publication:

Dec 1999

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